TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Dentists across the nation are reporting a staffing shortage and an increase in demand for appointments amid the pandemic. Local offices are saying it could take months for a new patient to be seen for a routine cleaning.
According to the American Dental Association, patient volume was at 89% in August, the highest it’s been since March of 2020. One problem that dentists are reporting is not having enough staff to see those patients in a timely manner. Ninety percent of dentists have reported recruitment of dental hygienists is extremely or very challenging, with 4 in 10 of those dentists seeking assistants.
In Tucson, some offices are reporting it could take up to four months for new patients to be seen for a routine visit. Because of COVID-19 shutdowns and concerns of possible spread, Dr. Alexa Carrara Benzell of Campbell Dental Group said a lot of patients are calling before the end of the year to get their teeth cleaned after not getting routine appointments during the pandemic.
“For existing patients, we try to get them in as soon as possible, but for new patients most of the time it will be close to January before we can see them,” Carrara Benzell said. “We would normally be able to get a new patient in within the same month.”